‘The original question’ I mentioned was from Frank K4FMH, who asked “Was there ever a theory or concept by the ARRL or any other group about what an “entity” is to begin with?” – a reasonable query.
+ From "Section II: DXCC List Criteria" in http://www.arrl.org/dxcc-rules
The ARRL DXCC List is the result of progressive changes in DXing since 1945. Each entity on the DXCC List contains some definable political or geographical distinctiveness. While the general policy for qualifying entities for the DXCC List has remained the same, there has been a gradual evolution in the specific details of criteria which are used to test entities for their qualifications. The full DXCC List does not conform completely with current criteria; for some of the listings were recognized from pre-WWII or were accredited with earlier versions of the criteria. In order to maintain continuity with the past, as well as to maintain a robust DXCC List, all entities on the List at the time the 1998 revision became effective were retained.
Certain terms occur frequently in the DXCC criteria and are listed here. Not all of the definitions given are used directly in the criteria, but are listed in anticipation of their future use.
Entity: A listing on the DXCC List; a counter for DXCC awards, previously denoted as a DXCC "Country."
Event: An historical occurrence, such as date of admission to UN or ITU that may be used in determining listing status.
Event Date: The date an Event occurs. This is the Start Date of all Event Entities.
Event Entity: An Entity created as the result of the occurrence of an Event.
Deletion Date: Date when an entity is added to the Deleted Entities List.
Discovery Entity: An Entity "Discovered" after the listing is complete. This applies only to Geographic Entities, and may occur after a future rule change, or after an Event has changed its status.
Discovery Date: Date of the rule change or Event which prompts addition of the Entity. This is the Start Date for a Discovery Entity.
Original Listing: An Entity which was on the DXCC List at the time of inception.
Start Date: The date after which confirmed two-way contact credits may be counted for DXCC awards.
Add Date: The date when the Entity will be added to the List, and cards will be accepted. This date is for administrative purposes only, and will occur after the Start Date.
Island: A naturally formed area of land surrounded by water, the surface of which is above water at high tide. For the purposes of this award, it must consist of connected land, of which at least two surface points must be separated from each other by not less than 100 meters measured in a straight line from point to point. All of the connected land must be above the high tide mark, as demonstrated on a chart of sufficient scale. For the purposes of this award, any island, reef, or rocks of less than this size shall not be considered in the application of the water separation criteria described in Part 2 of the criteria.
Criteria: Additions to the DXCC List may be made from time to time as world conditions dictate. Entities may also be removed from the List as a result of political or geographic change. Entities deleted from the List may be returned to the List in the future, should they qualify again in the future under these criteria. However, an entity that does qualify again in the future does so as a totally new Entity, not as a reinstated old one.
For inclusion in the DXCC List, conditions as set out below must be met. Listing is not contingent upon whether operation has occurred or will occur, but only upon the qualifications of the Entity.
There are five parts to the criteria, as follows:
1. Political Entities
2. Geographical Entities
3. Special Areas
4. Ineligible Areas
5. Deletion Criteria
1. Political Entities:
Political Entities are those areas which are separated by reason of government or political division. They generally contain an indigenous population which is not predominantly composed of military or scientific personnel.
An Entity will be added to the DXCC List as a Political Entity if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
a) The entity is a UN Member State.
b) The entity has been assigned a callsign prefix bloc by the ITU. (The exceptions to this rule are international organizations, such as the UN and ICAO. These Entities are classified under Special Areas, 3.a); and Ineligible Areas, 4.b).) A provisional prefix bloc assignment may be made by the Secretary General of ITU. Should such provisional assignments not be ratified later by the full ITU, the Entity will be deleted from the DXCC List.
c) The entity contains a permanent population, is administered by a local government, and is located at least 800 km from its parent. To satisfy the "permanent population" and "administered by a local government" criteria of this sub-section, an Entity must be listed on either (a) the U.S. Department of State's list of "Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty" as having a local "AdministrativeCenter," or (b) the United Nations list of "Non-Self-Governing Territories."
d) The entity has a separate IARU member society AND is included on the U.S. State Department Independent States in the World.
New Entities satisfying one or more of the conditions above will be added to the DXCC List by administrative action as of their "Event Date."
Entities qualifying under this section will be referred to as the "Parent" when considering separation under the section "Geographical Separation." Only entities in this group will be acceptable as a Parent for separation purposes.
2. Geographic Separation Entity
A Geographic Separation Entity may result when a single Political Entity is physically separated into two or more parts. The part of such a Political Entity that contains the capital city is considered the Parent for tests under these criteria. One or more of the remaining parts resulting from the separation may then qualify for separate status as a DXCC Entity if they satisfy paragraph a) or b) of the Geographic Separation Criteria, as follows.
a) Land Areas:
A new Entity results when part of a DXCC Entity is separated from its Parent by 100 kilometers or more of land of another DXCC Entity. Inland waters may be included in the measurement. The test for separation into two areas requires that a line drawn along a great circle in any direction from any part of the proposed Entity must not touch the Parent before crossing 100 kilometers of the intervening DXCC Entity.
b) Island Areas (Separation by Water):
A new entity results in the case of an island under any of the following conditions:
i) The island is separated from its Parent, and any other islands that make up the DXCC entity that contains the Parent, by 350 kilometers or more. Measurement of islands in a group begins with measurement from the island containing the capital city. Only one entity of this type may be attached to any Parent.
ii) The island is separated from its Parent by 350 kilometers or more, and from any other island attached to that Parent in the same or a different island group by 800 kilometers or more.
iii) The island is separated from its Parent by intervening land or islands that are part of another DXCC entity, such that a line drawn along a great circle in any direction, from any part of the island, does not touch the Parent before touching the intervening DXCC entity. There is no minimum separation distance for the first island entity created under this rule. Additional island entities may be created under this rule, provided that they are similarly separated from the Parent by a different DXCC entity and separated from any other islands associated with the Parent by at least 800 km.
3. Special Areas:
The Special Areas listed here may not be divided into additional Entities under the DXCC Rules. None of these constitute a Parent Entity, and none creates a precedent for the addition of similar or additional Entities.
a) The International Telecommunications Union in Geneva (4U1ITU) shall, because of its significance to world telecommunications, be considered as a Special Entity. No additional UN locations will be considered under this ruling.
b) The Antarctic Treaty, signed on December 1, 1959 and entered into force on June 23, 1961, establishes the legal framework for the management of Antarctica. The treaty covers, as stated in Article 6, all land and ice shelves below 60 degrees South. This area is known as the Antarctic Treaty Zone. Article 4 establishes that parties to the treaty will not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims and that they will assert no new claims while the treaty is in force. Under Article 10, the treaty States will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the terms of the treaty. In view of these Treaty provisions, no new entities below 60 degrees south will be added to the DXCC List as long as the Treaty remains in force.
c) The Spratly Islands, due to the nature of conflicting claims, and without recognizing or refuting any claim, is recognized as a Special Entity. Operations from this area will be accepted with the necessary permissions issued by an occupying Entity. Operations without such permissions, such as with a self-assigned (e.g., 1S) callsign, will not be recognized for DXCC credit.
d) Control of Western Sahara (S0) is currently an issue between Morocco and the indigenous population. The UN has stationed a peacekeeping force there. Until the sovereignty issue is settled, only operations licensed by the RASD shall count for DXCC purposes.
e) Entities on the 1998 DXCC List that do not qualify under the current criteria remain as long as they retain the status under which they were originally added. A change in that status will result in a review in accordance with Rule 5 of this Section.
4. Ineligible Areas:
a) Areas having the following characteristics are not eligible for inclusion on the DXCC List, and are considered as part of the host Entity for DXCC purposes:
i) Any extraterritorial legal Entity of any nature including, but not limited to, embassies, consulates, monuments, offices of the United Nations agencies or related organizations, other inter-governmental organizations or diplomatic missions.
ii) Any area with limited sovereignty or ceremonial status, such as monuments, indigenous areas, reservations, and homelands.
iii) Any area classified as a Demilitarized Zone, Neutral Zone or Buffer Zone.
b) Any area which is unclaimed or not owned by any recognized government is not eligible for inclusion on the DXCC List and will not count for DXCC purposes.
5. Deletion Criteria:
a) An Entity may be deleted from the List if it no longer satisfies the criteria under which it was added. However, if the Entity continues to meet one or more currently existing rules, it will remain on the List.
b) An Entity may be deleted from the List if it was added to the List:
i) Based on a factual error (Examples of factual errors include inaccurate measurements, or observations from incomplete, inaccurate or outdated charts or maps); and
ii) The error was made less than five years earlier than its proposed deletion date.
c) A change in the DXCC Criteria shall not affect the status of any Entity on the DXCC List at the time of the change. In other words, criteria changes will not be applied retroactively to Entities on the List.